Many of the articles on this blog contrast Jesus and Muhammad. This shouldn’t be surprising, as each of these individuals serves as the central figure of their respective religions. One of this blog’s readers, Jeanne, made an interesting and perceptive observation on a previous article upon which I would like to expand. Jesus said in John 15:13 that the ultimate act of love is giving one’s life for others, and Muslims cite examples of Muhammad’s followers doing so as proof of their great love for the prophet of Islam. What can we learn from investigating this ultimate act of sacrifice when viewed from both the lens of Islam and Christianity?
Both Muslims and Christians possess overwhelming love and admiration for their two respective religious figures. Some of the great lengths to which Muslims love Muhammad have been written about extensively on this blog. However, one aspect left untouched relates to how the Muslims’ love for Muhammad was manifested in battle. Early Muslims had such affection for Muhammad that they would be willing to defend him to the point of being martyred for the cause of Islam. Without opening a political can of worms, some Muslims today feel the same way. Islamic blogger and author Mohamed Ghilan describes this propensity by Muslims of Muhammad’s day for self-sacrifice during battle as follows.
“This was a man whose companions would jump up in battle exposing their chests to take arrows that were being shot at him. They did that without any of the training modern day Secret Service personnel receive to subvert their instincts for self-preservation. Their instinct was to sacrifice themselves in order to keep the Beloved peace be upon him safe.” [i]
Ghilan’s analysis is accurate as it correctly reflects events as recorded in the Hadith, one of the primary sources of information regarding Muhammad’s life. There are many Hadith which discuss how Muslims were martyred defending Muhammad in battle. One such example states,
On the day of the battle of uhud, a man came to the Prophet and said, “Can you tell me where I will be if I should get martyred?” The Prophet replied, “In Paradise.” The man threw away some dates he was carrying in his hand, and fought till he was martyred. [ii]
Martyrdom is not unique to Islam. Of course within Christianity, countless numbers of faithful followers of Jesus have been martyred over the centuries. So on the surface this might make it appear as a point of doctrine and practice where Christianity and Islam are analogous. However, a closer look tells a much different story.
An entire article could be written regarding the manner in which these martyrs surrendered their lives, and that deserves its own special look at a later time. For now, consider the timing of these martyrdoms. The first Muslims martyred themselves for Muhammad while he was still alive. However, all of the martyrs for Jesus Christ came after His death and resurrection. This might seem a trivial difference, but bear with me for a moment.
Before anyone was able to give their lives for Jesus, He had to first give His life for them. In other words, nobody died for Jesus until after Jesus first died for them. Not only this, but when Jesus gave His life for us, He did so knowing we didn’t deserve it (Romans 5:6). Jesus died for us, not because we were somehow inherently worthy, but rather in spite of our unrighteousness. Jesus did this of His own free will (John 10:18) so that He would be the path to salvation (1 Peter 2:24). Any acts of martyrdom by Christians after Jesus’ death and resurrection are only imitations of Jesus and His actions (Ephesians 5:1-2). Giving your life for someone you believe to be a good man is one thing (Romans 5:7), but dying for the ungodly is something else entirely (Romans 5:8). Just as we only can love because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19), so too we can only give our lives for Him only because He first gave His life for us.
The early Muslims were willing to take the arrows to preserve Muhammad, but Jesus took the arrow of sin first for us. Muslims saw Muhammad as a man worthy of all protection, while Jesus knew we were completely helpless, not deserving of salvation by our own merit. Yet Jesus provided an avenue of salvation for us nonetheless. In Islam, the followers die for their leader. In Christianity, the leader dies for His followers.
[ii] Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 377 http://www.sahih-bukhari.com/Pages/Bukhari_5_59.php
Tell me Christian, what does Jesus think about His followers slaughtering inocent people, children and whatever, from Helocpter gunnships, while they them selfs claim they do it for their God, as the USarmys “religion.
Do enlighten me/us.
From Now on, I will use the Label Christians, “followers of the teachings of christ”, to anything YOU do, and everything the so called Godgiven rights to the uSSA to slaughter whatever They want, huh, and even They claim they have their God on their side.
Once again, do enlighten me/us, how is it possible to pervert the teachings of Jesus to sutch and extent its becomed downright evil, and Nowhere is this wars, based on lies and forgerys, where MILLIONS where diplaced and MILLION killed by YOUR GOD; Christian.
You have no f…. right og in any way, to be a teacher, you are the wurst scum humanity have encountered, the scum of this earth.
You have no f…. rights to putt ad hoc shitt on others, while YOU are slaughtering, mutch more than ANY other religion have ever done, infact there is NOTHING that is comparable to the slaughtering done in the name of Jesus Christ.
You, will burn, but I know you will not belive this, since you are a fully devouted Chrsitan, right, huh, scum.
HOW can YOU kill in the name of Him.
Do enlighten me/us.
Be carefull, christian, for I know mutch more than you do, and Hell is a fact, its a drak world, with no sun, and I will make shure your perverted souls will be nailed for eternety to this dark world, and never will you see light again, and reincarnate for eternety in that Hell.
Because, you havent even read what He says at all have you.
This Lifetime is a meer glimse, a brief moment in this universe, use it well, and you have eternety to live, but this isnt something to take lightly, but then again, I know you will not belive a word, do you.
The hottes place in Hell is reserved for Hypocrats and Liers, Murderes and theifs, this goes to all of you, islam, christians and jews, our God is watching.
But again, its YOU choice, not mine.
I can understand why you have the reaction that you do. Since Islam integrates military expansion into the very essence of Islamic doctrine, it would be reasonable for you to believe that Christianity does this as well. However, this is a mistaken assumption. Additionally, since Islam encompasses the political realm as part of its religion, (such as the Islamic State) it would also be reasonable for you to assume that the USArmy is a “Christian organization.” This too, could not be farther from the truth. America is not a Christian country any longer. So your desire to tie the actions of the US military to the teachings of Jesus are totally misinformed and misguided.
And yes, hell is a real place, and we will all answer for our lives here on earth. Given this undeniable truth, here is my question for you.
Nowhere does Jesus teach that Christians should kill innocent people. This, in itself, is a major difference between Islam and Christianity. Perhaps what’s most ironic about your note is that your moral sensitivities actually point toward the teachings of Jesus rather than those of Muhammad. You tell me, which moral standard do you find more palatable, those of Jesus or those of Muhammad?
Great article, Robert. The contrast between the life of Christ and the life of Muhammad always magnifies the beauty of Christ and the utter depravity of Muhammad. The validity of any religion can be determined by the worthiness of its founder. Between Christ and Muhammad is an infinite chasm.
Hey Michael, don’t confuse the teachings of Jesus Christ with that of Scripture! The teachings of Jesus Christ “STAND-ON-THEIR-OWN” with or without, Scripture. Heck, the teachings of Jesus Christ ARE in opposition to that of Scripture…anyways!
Jesus Christ taught us that we are ALL equal in the “eyes of God” and should “love one another!” Scripture IS convoluted and “bent” in favor of a group of people. Just as ALL Religions…ARE!
Jesus Christ even said to NOT worship Him or follow any Religion!
When I “Pray,” I ask in the name of Jesus Christ as I am asking in accordance with what He taught…”LOVE!”